This Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish made with Arborio rice, packed with chicken, sausage, mussels, clams, shrimp and loaded with flavor. It’s such a comforting dish, no wonder it’s the most popular dish of Spain!
I have a romantic dish for you today. At least I think it’s romantic because this isn’t something you’d make every day. Not because it’s hard, trust me it’s quite easy to make this paella, but because it’s a bit more expensive. Not to mention how gorgeous this dish is.
This chicken and seafood paella will sure surprise and impress your significant other or guests. I can tell you my husband loved this and ate 3 servings in one sitting. That’s about the best compliment I could get. If there’s one dish he requests often besides his beloved Schnitzel, it’s this paella. I should mention that this recipe is by no means authentic, this is just my version of paella.
- Seafood – Lots of seafood in this dish! Mussels, clams and shrimp. You can switch up the seafood, try using calamari, scallops or lobster!
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes – You can substitute with regular diced tomatoes, but I love the little bit of smokiness that the fire roasted tomatoes add.
- Arborio Rice – Arborio rice is a short Italian rice that is perfect for paella. Paella is usually made with bomba rice which is also a short grain rice though it absorbs much more water, usually for every cup of raw rice you have to add 3 cups of liquid.
- Sausage – Chorizo sausage is a good one to use, however you can use any other type of sausage. You can use cured or raw, either work fine.
- Chicken thighs – I prefer chicken thighs in this recipe because they are juicier and since the cooking process is quite a bit longer, they won’t dry out as much as chicken breasts.
- Spices and Seasoning – Besides salt and pepper you’ll need some smoked paprika and saffron. Saffron is a must in my opinion, but you don’t need a lot, a little bit goes a long way. It has a sweet, floral taste to it, plus it adds brilliant color to your dish and great flavor. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store, you can find it online or any International food stores should carry it.
- Onion and Garlic – Essential flavor enhancers to any dish.
- Broth – I used vegetable broth, but chicken broth or probably even better, seafood broth works well. Opt for a low sodium one.
How To Make Paella
- Cook the chicken and sausage: You’ll first want to cook the chicken and sausage in a little bit of olive oil until it starts to brown and is no longer pink. Move the chicken and sausage to one side of the pan and then add the chopped onion and cook for a couple more minutes until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
- Add garlic and roasted tomatoes: You can then add the garlic, the rice and here I go again with some fire roasted tomatoes. I can’t help it, I really do love those fire roasted tomatoes. Regular diced tomatoes work just as well.
- Stir in the broth: Stir everything together then you can add the broth, I used a vegetable broth which is why you see that rich dark color, but chicken broth works as well.
- Add the spices: Now is the time to add the smoked paprika, hot sauce and saffron. Saffron is quite an expensive spice, but you really want a bit of saffron here, a little goes a long way. You can now cover the paella pan with a large lid, the only large lid I found that fits the paella pan is from my wok, but it worked great.
- Cook the rice: Cook the rice for about 15 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid, but you’ll notice that the rice is still not cooked through.
- Add seafood and finish the dish: Just arrange the clams, mussels and shrimp around the pan. Cover the pan again and cook for another 10 minutes or until the mussels and clams open up. Finally, garnish this gorgeous dish with some fresh parsley and lemon wedges and you’ve got yourself dinner.
FAQs & Expert Tips
What is Paella?
Paella is a classic Spanish rice dish and it’s widely regarded as Spain’s national dish. Personally, I love it, especially because it’s so versatile. I make paella quite often and make it with different proteins. In my u002230 Minute One Pot Mealsu0022 cookbook there is a quick 30 minute paella recipe.
What other seafood can I use in Paella?
Shrimp, clams and mussels are the common seafood ingredients used in paella, but don’t stop there. Try using calamari, scallops or lobster!
What’s the best Paella pan or skillet?
While it’s common to use a large paella pan so that you have enough room in the pan to spread out the rice and for all the other ingredients, you can still use a large skillet. Just make sure it’s large enough so that the rice not stacked up more than an inch, you’re looking for the rice to cook in a nice thin layer.
What’s the best rice to use?
Paella is made with paella rice known as bomba rice which is a short grain rice. The closest substitute and easiest to find is arborio rice because it has similar consistency as bomba rice. Do not use brown rice since it takes too long to cook, or basmati since it’s too firm and jasmine is too mushy. You should be able to find arborio rice in most grocery stores.
How to serve Paella?
Paella is one of those dishes that you eat straight from the pan. Just take it from the stovetop and place it directly on the table, pass out some forks and dig right in. However, before you start eating, make to to mix it all up to make sure all of the ingredients marry together for ultimate flavors.
- I strongly recommend using a Paella pan because it has a wider surface and the secret of paella is cooking everything evenly in a single layer. As it cooks the rice gets toasty and crispy at the bottom and that’s what you want in a good paella.
- Don’t be afraid to use more oil as needed. This will keep your rice grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Use a high quality saffron. I know it’s quite expensive but that’s because it’s the most precious spice in the world. It’s a star ingredient in most paella dishes. A good quality saffron will be the most flavorful, and a just a pinch will do.
- You’ll notice a crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan, that is what you’re looking for. This is why it’s important to not stir the rice as it cooks. We are not looking for creamy rice. That golden crust at the bottom is the best part of the paella.
- If on a budget and can’t afford all the seafood required for this dish, I recommend to at least go with the mussels, since they add so much seafood flavor to the paella.
Storing Leftover Paella
If for any reason you have leftover paella, you’ll need to store it properly in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 24 hours only because of the seafood. If you didn’t use seafood it would last 3 to 5 days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer. Before storing it though, remove all the shells from the rice and store them separately, return the shellfish when warming it back all together.
To regain some of the original structure of the paella rice, it’s best to reheat it in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil. Spread the paella evenly across the pan and saute for a few minutes until heated through. You can also reheat it in the oven in an oven safe dish. Place it in a preheated to 250°F oven and heat for about 20 to 30 minutes.
I made this recipe and by far it’s my favorite paella recipe. It’s easy to make and the flavors are wonderful. I think the fire roasted tomatoes put it over the top. I didn’t have the smoked paprika but substituted it with a turmeric and smidgen of liquid smoke. This will definitely be my go-to paella recipe. Thanks for sharing.